For one, it's about finally getting over the hump.
For the other, it's unchartered territory.
Andrew Jackson (29-2) and Ponte Vedra (27-3) will continue their magical, 2022 seasons in the Class 4A and Class 6A State Championship games, respectively. For Jackson, Thursday's state semifinal appearance was their fourth straight; for Ponte Vedra, it was the program's first.
Trailing by as many as 15 early, Jackson came back to beat Gibbs 58-45, using a late, 17-0 run to power their way back to the State Championship for the second time in those four seasons. A win would be the first basketball state championship for a Duval County public school since Raines won it all in 2004. The Tigers last won a basketball state championship in 1993, current head coach James Collins' senior season.
The Tigers will face Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian in the Class 4A State Championship at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Ponte Vedra had its fair share of drama in a back-and-forth affair with Winter Haven in their semifinal game Thursday. The Sharks trailed 22-21 at halftime, but, for a second straight week, came out of the intermission firing, this time to the tune of an 8-2 run. Ponte Vedra found themselves down two with a minute to go, but senior J.T. Kelly answered the bell once again with a three. Kelly then made a pair of free throws to push the lead to 57-54. Winter Haven got two looks at a game-tying three with under 10 seconds to play, but couldn't get either to fall.
The Sharks will face Martin County in the Class 6A State Championship at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Bradford (15-10) is also onto the state title game. They will face Paxton in the Class 1A State Championship Friday night at 7 p.m.